Are you guilty of not giving tuppence?

I actually mean two pence but that does not have the same heritage as tuppence. If you have a look at the ‘References in periodicals archive’ section of the page for tuppence under the Idioms tab on the Free Dictionary website, you will see what I mean (you may have to scroll down a bit).

Two pence is how much you save by using a three letter acronym (TLA) rather than saying the words in full. That figure is calculated on minimum wage, if you are fortunate enough to be on average wage, and who is because the figure is distorted by the obscene amount paid to some bosses, it is about six pence. What you lose is harder to value. To calculate the saving all I had to do was time myself saying three letter acronym and saying TLA deduct one from the other, do a bit of maths and I had a value. There is no doubt in my mind that acronyms tend to obfuscate rather than inform. Worse than that they neuter the message.

I spent a few years as a Compliance Officer in Financial Services and during that time TCF was an omnipresent acronym. Banks and other large financial services companies spent a lot of time ticking boxes to make sure they were TCF compliant, a requirement of the regulator, but paid little attention to what the initials stood for – Treating Customers Fairly (action, people, justice). You can see why the banks had to pay out lots of compensation due to the mis-selling scandals, where they didn’t treat customers fairly.

So, what has got me hot under the collar now. Today I listened to a Diversity and Inclusion Advisor talk about how equality, diversity and inclusion benefited companies. They quoted a Harvard Business Review article reporting on research that found multidisciplinary teams that combine the collective capabilities of women and men, people of different cultural heritage, and younger and older workers are 17% more likely to report that they are high performing, 20% more likely to say they make high-quality decisions, and 29% more likely to report behaving collaboratively. That is a misquote because the article was about how simply throwing a mix of people together doesn’t guarantee high performance; it requires inclusive leadership. Still equality, diversity and inclusion are a good thing, reducing it to ED & I or more commonly EDI is not a good thing.

If you look under the ‘Acronyms’ tab on the Free Dictionary you will find 46 different meanings for EDI. The most commonly used meaning is Electronic Data Interchange with Equality, Diversity and Inclusion being some way down the list. If it is important say it in full and appreciate the richness of the words and the meanings they convey.

Equality – the state of being equal, especially in status, rights, or opportunities.

Diversity – variety, a range of different things or people.

Inclusion – the action or state of including or of being included within a group.

ED & I could be anything, even a hospital department. Equality, Diversity and Inclusion is about rights, fairness, people, groups, richness.

If it is important say it.

If you like what I say you can buy me a coffee if you want to.

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Networking is like owning a dog

It’s said that eyes are the window to the soul; it’s hard to make eye contact during online networking so we cannot see into people’s souls; however, the screen does give us a window to their minds.

I was on a meeting the other day and one of the attendees, after giving his one-minute pitch, could be seen looking to one side and concentrating on what I assume was another screen and typing away. He was so intent on what was on his other screen that had I said “Hey Mr xxx you are a complete idiot” he would not have heard. When he gave his presentation, I thought oh he might be able to help my friend’s businesses. When I witnessed his behaviour during the rest of the meeting, I realised that he was only interested in helping himself and had no interest in others.

That was perhaps the most extreme example I have seen, unfortunately there have been many more times when I have seen similar, but less extreme behaviour, people switching off when others are speaking; how arrogant to expect them to listen to you and then not having the common decency to listen to them. People constantly checking their phones is also a bugbear, by all means use your mobile to connect with someone who is in the meeting on LinkedIn, but don’t spend all your time focused on your mobile rather than on the people talking.

Words are only part of communication; actions are also important. During an online networking meeting you are seen for a lot longer than you are heard, make sure you don’t sabotage what you said by what you do.

Just like a dog is for life not just Christmas, networking is for the whole session not just your pitch.

I wonder when we go back to physical networking whether that guy will get his laptop out and start working after he has given his one-minute pitch.

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www.trailrunningman.com

Two powerful business tools

I’m going to tell you about two business tools that, if used wisely, will revolutionize your business and your life. They are free. If you like them feel free to buy me a coffee, or better still a beer, after lockdown is over.

On Friday I attended, as usual, a breakfast networking event, unfortunately virtually. It is a little different from the normal networking where people give their sales pitch, then mentally switch off or play with their phones while others give their pitch, before mentally turning off or playing with their phones. We all know each other at that meeting so talk about our week, problems and any highlights.  One woman talked about how busy she was and how at some point in time she hopes she can get some sort of work/life balance. This has been a constant theme since just after the start of the coronavirus pandemic. Someone suggested a local business consultant could help her identify how she could get her business running better and perhaps identify significant time saving opportunities. Several people agreed with the usefulness of this suggestion and then provided testimonials for the person recommended. I could tell by the set of the woman’s jaw that this suggestion would not be taken up. I think some people want, or need, to be busy and to think the world treats them badly.

Work/life balance is a state of mind. Use the thought of that woman in the networking meeting as a spanner to adjust the work/life balance in your mind. If that doesn’t work use the thought of the heart attack or stroke you are storing up, or missing your children growing up and possibly getting divorced as a hammer to crack that tough nut.

Earlier in the week I attended another networking event and decided not to play the sales pitch game. Instead, I told people to Google Trailrunningman to find out what I do and then proceeded to promote things that two other people are doing. The first person is an ultrarunner, runs a successful small business employing several people and writes poetry. I was promoting her poetry book; I am a fellow writer, although not a poet. The second person is an aspiring ultrarunner, planning to tackle a tough event in May to raise money for a local hospice. I was promoting his fundraising efforts. He is a busy sales and presentation coach and has two podcast series which are regularly updated. The first is business focused and the other is a series of interviews with runners about how to train for ultramarathons and what motivates them. Both busy people who find time to put in the extensive training required to run an ultramarathon. They have something in common with people who say they do not have time to run; they all have exactly the same 24 hours in a day to fit everything in.  Unless you are living in extreme poverty what we do with our time is a matter of choice.

So, if you think you haven’t got time to exercise, enjoy nature, learn a language, write poetry, paint or whatever else you yearn to do use the thought of those two runners as a screwdriver to adjust your time allocation dial.

Talking of screwdrivers, I’d be just as happy if you bought me a cocktail rather than a coffee or a beer.

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Don’t waste your money on marketing!

if you are going to sabotage what you do.

I love beer and trying new offerings. There is a lager produced in Cornwall, which is one of my favourites, I have been ordering for home delivery ever since the first lockdown. I am on the brewery’s email list so receive offers and news. I was exciting about a new beer they were promoting and wanted to try it. Being vegan I always check that there are no animal products in the drinks I am buying. The Germans who have ‘The Reinheitsgebot’ (purity of beer regulations rooted in laws introduced in Bavaria in 1516) are horrified by what we put in our beer.

There was no information on the company’s website and the beer was too new to be listed on Barnivore (a website that lists drinks and indicates whether they are vegan) so I emailed the brewery. The email was an example of the triumph of hope over experience; I have emailed the brewery before and got no response. It was the same result this time, despite me sending a reminder email, so I did not buy the new beer. Additionally, I have decided that is it with the company, I will be buying lager from another brewery, not Cornish, but it does have excellent green credentials. I have also unsubscribed from their emails.

Contrast that with my experience of Sandford Orchards, a small cider maker in Devon. The apples they use are grown within a 30-mile radius of the presses. I bought their cider during the summer and signed up to receive emails from them.  A little while ago they sent me an email about a beer that had been produced by the Windsor & Eton Brewery using juice from their apples; Beamquake Graf – apple beer. I liked the sound of that so emailed Sandford Orchards to ask whether it was vegan. I got a quick response to say that they would ask the Eton & Windsor brewery and get back to me. By the end of the day, I got my reply, “it was suitable for vegans”. I placed an order and a few days later was enjoying some excellent beer. I am about to place a repeat order.

The moral of the story is, communicate with your customers and they will stay with you, ignore them and they will leave. More than that communicate well, and they will sing your praises. As you will see I have mentioned Sandford Orchards and not the Cornish brewer, I like to praise publicly and criticise privately; no internet trolling for me.

Rapid and effective communication with customers is even more important when things go wrong. I started a Mindful Chef recipe box subscription during lockdown as a little treat. I chose that particular company because it has a good vegan range and because they are a B Corp (an ethical and environmental standard), so their values are aligned with mine. I’ve loved the food and everything about the company, I no longer see it as a treat but a permanent part of my life. I’m so impressed that I have joined the Mindful Chef Facebook community (the only brand that I have done that with). Most of the posts on there are about how well the dishes have turned out and how much people have enjoyed cooking them. Occasionally there is a post about something going wrong and they always follow the same pattern, “I have been with MC for a long time and this is the first thing that has gone wrong, I contacted the company and very quickly got an apology, and the missing ingredient was delivered the following day” or “I received a credit far in excess of the cost of the missing ingredient”. Sometimes they follow up with “I was with xxxxxx and when things went wrong I could never get through to anyone and it took ages to get things resolved that’s why I changed to MC”

The most effective marketing campaign is keeping existing customers and have them singing your praises. Getting the back office stuff and logistics right isn’t as exciting as fancy straplines, amazing graphics and exotic photo shoots, but it does stop your customers leaking away and wasting all that marketing spend.

A final word on logistics. I have been with Mindful Chef for over six months and have a delivery every two weeks. So a lot of deliveries. Not one of those has been late; they have all arrived on the designated day and within the one-hour time slot communicated to me that morning. The deliveries are made by DPD, a carbon neutral firm which pleases me, and I suspect that they are not as cheap as some other delivery firms. A high-street name chain I have bought from online when shops were closed uses one of those cheaper delivery companies. Out of three orders, one was lost and never arrived, one arrived a day after it was supposed to and the other was two days late. Fortunately, due to lockdown I hadn’t stayed in specially to receive those deliveries, I was at home anyway, still it was frustrating, and I have stopped buying from that business. The small amount they saved by using a cheap, unreliable delivery service will be outweighed by the costs of getting a new customer.

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If you want to try Mindful Chef use this link. You will get 25% off your first four orders (no commitment) and I get a £10 credit (sweet). If that doesn’t work you can use edward@trailrunningman.com in the discount box.

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What can John Otway and a Bunsen burner teach us about the GameStop phenomenon?

The answer to that question is a lot; it can bring some clarity amongst all the hype.

For those of you not familiar with John Otway, and there will be many, he is a musician who first appeared on the music scene in the punk rock era and has continued to be active to the current day, with a range of interesting projects. One was to write a rock opera with John Baine, who’s stage name is Attila the Stockbroker, apposite for this article. It’s fair to say that Otway has not enjoyed massive commercial success. However, he does have a very loyal following of fans and he is very aware of their power and sometimes uses them to pull off publicity stunts. The lyrics from the ‘B’ side of one of his lesser-known singles was voted to be one of the top ten greatest lyrics of all time in a BBC poll. How did that happen?

Market manipulation and the power of a small group of people is not restricted to shenanigans on the financial markets or indeed social media platforms.

One of the stunts pulled off by John Otway fans puts the GameStop/Reddit/Robinhood thing into perspective. In 2002, when some fans asked Otway what he wanted for his birthday, his response was ‘another top ten hit’, and a plan was hatched. He recorded a single ‘Bunsen Burner’ with three different ‘B’ sides so fans would buy three records, not one, and the purchases were all made in one week. It worked, the record made number nine and John Otway was therefore invited to appear on the Top of the Pops TV programme.

What lessons can be learnt from this?

You only need to sell relatively few records in a week to get in the top ten, some say 10,000 or less, so easy to manipulate. Otway’s wheeze of having three different ‘B’ sides enhanced the chance of success. There was little chance of the record staying in the charts, if you have heard the lyrics you would know why. They contain truly cringe worthy lines like ‘let me be your Bunsen burner baby, let me be your naked flameYou’re my little pipette, the favourite piece of apparatus in my chemistry set … you’re the kind of carbon I can date’.

The fans were able to get one record in the top ten for one week, had they tried to get two in there in the same week they would have failed; had they tried to get in all ten spots their efforts would probably not have even registered.

And that is how it is with the Robinhood band and GameStop, a manufactured one-hit-wonder, rather than anything enduring, and I doubt that it would be endearing if we looked deep into the motives behind it. The market capitalisation of GameStop (at the inflated price) is about $22 Billion, now that might seem a big figure, but not in the context of the NASDAQ. Netflix has a market capitalisation over ten times more at $235 Billion, but even that is small compared to the big boys, Alphabet A and Alphabet C (ex Google), both about $1,200 Billion, which is again small compared to Apple, $2,200 Billion.

The day traders collaborating via Reddit might think they are disrupters, but they are just using a pipette to put drops in the ocean and their Bunsen burner is not going to make the big companies feel the heat.

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www.trailrunningman.com

Trees and rocks

A few weeks ago I wrote on another of my blogs about how the words we use have power, it was titled ‘Sticks and Stones’. Today something happened that made me realise that the post lacked the power it should have, so I am writing about it again this time with the title ‘Trees and rocks’; they are bigger than sticks and stones.

Using trees in the title is appropriate; how someone referred to them made me apoplectic. I was involved in a consultation exercise with an energy company (yes, I know I live an exciting life) and the targets for all sorts of things were being discussed by the group (online) from customer service to cyber resilience. It was all going well until we came to network performance (power cuts). Some power cuts are caused by trees falling on power lines during storms. To keep on top of this the company monitored tree infestations, What! Infestations, they are not fleas or cockroaches, they are trees, beautiful things. People write poems about trees.

Trees

Joyce Kilmer

I think that I shall never see

A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest

Against the sweet earth’s flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day,

And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in summer wear

A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;

Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,

But only God can make a tree.

Yes, I know there is a poem about a flea; however, that is an erotic metaphysical poem by John Donne. It is not in praise of the flea; it is just used as a device.

Until that word was used I felt well disposed to the organisation, after the infestation utterance they ranked below Beelzebub and were definitely off my Christmas card list. Your choice of language can affect how your organisation is perceived. It can also affect how you behave, the solution to tree infestation was clearance with other solutions not being considered. Compare that with the problem that electricity lines pose when they cross a playground (electrocution risk to children). Here undergrounding or insulation are the preferred solutions. Apparently clearing the little pests off the playground is not an option.

Off course children are more important than trees; they are little treasures. If trees are thought about as treasures, rather than infestations, how they are dealt with may be more sympathetic; re-routing, undergrounding or raising the cables up above the trees would then become options.

I took a few calming breaths (this may be a luxury when all the trees are gone) and carried on listening to the plans to decarbonise their operations. All sounded lovely until it came to electric vehicles. It would not be possible to replace the whole fleet with electric vehicles because sometimes they were required to go off-road in some tough conditions and the electric vehicles are not man enough. What!

Oh dear, that is some rather large tyre tracks through the UNESCO guidelines on gender neutral language, 1999. Note the comments on page 4:

“There is a growing awareness that language does not merely reflect the way we think: it also shapes our thinking. If words and expressions that imply that women are inferior to men are constantly used, that assumption of inferiority tends to become part of our mindset.”

Words have power, chose your words carefully. Mind your language.

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A ‘Wicked’ Product or Service Mix.

I had assumed that using wicked to mean excellent or wonderful was the idiom of youth, or perhaps youth a few years back, and was amazed to discover that it has its roots in the early 1960s  So now you know that I’m talking about excellent mixes of products or services rather than bad ones.

Most business offer a mix, for example accountants may offer, audit services, bookkeeping, accounts preparation, tax advice, payroll services and business consultancy. An artist may sell original work, limited edition prints, notelets and other items carrying the images.

The mix may have grown haphazardly or been appropriate in the past, but not wonderful in current conditions. So, keep it under constant review. Some businesses will only carry out an extremely basic assessment, if sales value exceeds costs it’s in. Others may expect a product to contribute a certain amount towards overheads before including it in the mix. A more sophisticated approach would be to allocate overheads to products on a rational basis thinking about how those products impact overhead costs. For example, something that needs to be stored at a given temperature (high or low) will impact energy costs more than something that can be stored at ambient temperatures. Even then somethings may be omitted from the decision process, a product that can only be bought in bulk and sold in small quantities may have a better cost profile than some others; however, what is the impact on the business of tying up working capital in stock?

Products or services do not exist in isolation, they are often interconnected and interdependent, so systems thinking needs to be applied to product mix. That is where my thoughts to turned to ‘wicked’, if you read about systems thinking you will come across the term ‘wicked problems’ meaning difficult ones. The connections between products or services are relatively simple; however, it is easy to overlook them and it is sometimes difficult to understand the impact. For example, an artist selling notelets may find her work becomes better known that way and that increases the chance of selling more original pieces. Or it may cheapen the brand and discourage buyers at the higher end.

When I sold to independent sports shops there was an item in the range that made us little money; however, it was a star – it was our way in. It was something they couldn’t get elsewhere; it came with a neat countertop point-of-sale display and only required a small investment, so shops were prepared to buy from an unknown distributor. That gave us the opportunity to build relationships and they would then buy more products from us. Later, when we were more established, there were products in the range that kept us in, they were not stars; however, they did stop our customers sourcing them from somewhere else and possibly straying to a competitor for all their needs.

There are many relationships, for example, is a less profitable product taking sales away from a more profitable one? Do products have different seasonal characteristics, two massive summer sellers could mean you cannot meet demand, one summer star and one winter star could mean more overall sales.

Examine your products or services and understand their characteristics, then think about the system of relationships and then think about what is not there, what is missing. Would adding something in there improve the whole system. Just don’t disappear into the matrix and please be kind to the dog

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Make your own luck – plan

Please bear with my running story, it is relevant then I get down to business.

On Monday’s I attend an online event at 7 am, Wisdoms123 Chats, it is hosted in South Africa so a more reasonable time of 8 am there. At this time of year it means getting up in the dark; however the good thing is that by the time it is over (it lasts for about 30 to 40 minutes) it is light enough to go for a run. A great way to start the day.

Unfortunately, this Monday I also had a commitment at 8 am, UK time, and a busy day ahead. Getting a run in looked unlikely; not good. There was one small gap in the schedule after the 8 am meeting that could be exploited with some planning and adjustments. I normally have a cooked breakfast when I get back from the run, there would be no time for that, so I prepared overnight oats the day before and ate them before the 7 am Zoom meeting. Even though it is advertised as a breakfast meeting I think eating while on screen is not the thing to do. My kit was all laid out and I had pre-planned where I would go so that I knew I’d get back in time to have a shower and dress before the next meeting. If things didn’t go quite to plan, I could always wipe my face with a flannel and shower later; there is no odour function on Zoom, yet!

It had been wet and windy when I got up, when I got out of the door, the rain had gone, and the wind had died down; it was a lovely sunny day. That was lucky I thought, then I realised it wasn’t luck. It would have been sunny whether I had gone for a run or not; I was only enjoying it because I had planned and been able to work around the other commitments to get outside.

Wikipedia says Gary Player* (South African golfing legend) “Coined one of the most quoted aphorisms of post-War sport”:

The harder you practice, the luckier you get.

I like to think the more you plan the luckier you get. Perhaps one day Wikipedia will attribute that aphorism to me.

The more you plan, the luckier you get.

It might seem that in business the more you plan the luckier you get, and it is certainly in line with W H Murray’s thinking:

“…the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred.” – full quote produced at the end of this post.

I know what he means, and the sentiment is certainly spot on; however, Providence does not move, and those things would have occurred irrespective of whether ones commits or not. Our awareness of those events and the outcomes are affected by planning, as a simple example will demonstrated. You have a business selling cakes and get your ingredients delivered from a wholesaler at the other end of the M5. You know that accidents can happen so maintain a small stock. That accident will happen no matter what you do, by planning the effects are mitigated. You may think that is good risk management, but what about when it is something good that happens, is that luck or the result of planning. Let’s look at an example; you are at a networking event and get talking to some one who has a wonderful recipe for brownies. You are thrilled, your sponges are superb; however, your brownies are borderline. You had planned to visit the British Library to research brownie recipes, now you don’t need to do that, what a stroke of luck. No, it is not, you were always going to meet that person. If you were not planning to sort your brownies out the comment about the brownie recipe would have been said and fallen on deaf ears.

Why W H Murray says “All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred” is because your antennae are twitching and you notice them, indeed many you will grab with both hands. With out planning they would have passed without being noticed, to you it would appear that they had not happened because you were not aware of them.

So, plan, plan and plan and get ‘lucky’.

*Wikipedia is wrong; Gary Player attributes the saying to fellow golfer Jerry Barber. However, it would seem that the saying, or something very similar has been around since at least the 1940s.

Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative and creation, there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in ones favour all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance which no man could have dreamed would have come his way.W. H. Murray

www.trailrunningman.com

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Change

I thought I would say a few words about change as there is a lot of it about at the moment; some of it forced upon businesses and some of it as the result of businesses seizing opportunities. There was an interesting discussion recently on Twitter organised by the Inclusivity Project during National Inclusion Week. The Inclusivity Project helps small-to-medium businesses in Cornwall & Isles of Scilly to overcome challenges around inclusive employment and workplace wellbeing and is funded by the European Regional Development Fund. During that discussion it was noted that older employees are often thought of as change-resistant; however, they are not, they are changed experienced. And that made me think about successful change programmes.

Niccolò Machiavelli (1469 – 1527), the Italian diplomat and philosopher observed:

“It ought to be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things. Because the innovator has for enemies all those who have done well under the old conditions, and lukewarm defenders in those who may do well under the new. This coolness arises partly from fear of the opponents, who have the laws on their side, and partly from the incredulity of men, who do not readily believe in new things until they have had a long experience of them.”

The older experienced employee will have seen many attempts at a new order of things, most of which will have foundered on the rocks of the lack of belief in new things. They will also know that changes which bring real benefits to them are good, so will back changes where the benefits are worthwhile and clearly seen at the outset. I am sure very few people kept using a mangle once they saw the benefits of the spin drier.

I’m not a fan of Machiavelli; he encouraged politicians to engage in evil when it would be necessary for political expediency. His book, The Prince, gained notoriety due to claims that it taught “evil recommendations to tyrants to help them maintain their power”.

I’m not a fan of Dizzee Rascal either, but in a different way; I don’t like his music. I admire what he has achieved. For those not familiar with Dizzee Rascal he is a rapper and considered to be the pioneer of grime music in the UK. He has just been awarded the MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours. Dizzee had a troubled childhood, was violent and disruptive and expelled from four schools. Music changed him. Now he is a respected artist, owns a record label, holds an honorary Doctorate of the Arts from the University of East London and now is a MBE.

The reason I mentioned Dizzee, or Mr Rascal as Jeremy Paxman referred to him in a television interview in 2008, is for his words during that interview.

“If you believe you can achieve innit”

That is probably all you need to know about change, you can look all the other stuff up; leadership, consultation, incremental steps, taking people with you, etc. The important thing is.

“If you believe you can achieve innit”

You can see the interview here.

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To speak or not to speak that is the question?

Every weekday morning at the unpleasant time of 7am I join an online group in South Africa (it’s 8am for them) for a brief discussion on various management/leadership topics. I find it a great way to start the day listening to the views of others and also reflecting on what I think and why. It only lasts for half an hour so does not eat into the day. Leigh the CEO of Wisdoms starts us off and then Ivan invites us in turn to speak; he decides when you will speak. You never know whether you will be first, last, or somewhere in between.

The topic we are going to discuss next is influence and I have all weekend to think about it. Now if I speak first I could set the tone for the morning, if I’m called to speak later I could find that what I was going to say has already been said or does not fit in with the direction that has been set by the others.  This made me think about Brutus and Mark Anthony as well as a trick I play on children when I volunteer on activity breaks.

Children first; I say that being able to do sums in your head is a good life skill and tell them that I am going to set them a task to see how good they are at mental arithmetic. I say you are driving a bus which leave the bus station with 5 passengers, at the first stop 2 people get off and 3 get on, at the next stop 2 get off and 4 get on, nothing happens at the next stop and at the final stop before getting back to the bus station 3 people get off and 1 gets on. What is the name of the bus driver? No one gets the right answer even though everyone knows it. I have directed then to think about numbers, so they miss the non-numeric piece of information “You are driving a bus”.

If you are a manager, boss, leader, or expert you can quite easily stop your team seeing the answers if you give your opinion first, they will agree with you, you have directed them how to think. If you want to generate fresh ideas keep your opinions to yourself and speak last. You many need to interject if the discussion is clearly going awry.

Of course, if you want to dictate how things turn out express your opinions first, but beware of Brutus and Mark Anthony. I studied Julius Caesar for English ‘O’ Level and all I remember apart from ‘Et tu, Brute?’ is a discussion about the speeches made by Brutus and Mark Anthony. My ‘O’ levels were over 50 years ago, and I have not read or seen the play since. Brutus spoke to the crowd first after the killing of Caesar, he was eloquently and had things in the bag, then Mark Anthony spoke often saying “Brutus is an honourable man” To start with he builds on what Brutus said appearing to support him then gradually he turns the crowd against Brutus. So, the big question, do you speak first or last. I have never sorted that one out, both have worked for me. Generally, I speak later so that I can use what people have said before in whatever way suits my objectives.

So, what am I going to say about Influencing on the WISDOMS™ Chats? I have three options prepared so that I am ready for whenever I am called to contribute:

The bus example

Brutus and Mark Anthony

A tale of two runners

Both the runners have written a book, and both are public speakers. One wins races and sets records the other has come last in 25 marathons. If I use the tale of two runners it will be about which one is the more influential.  Of course, things might go pear-shaped, then I will just wing it.

Before I speak, I always consider the mnemonic WAIT, which I came across during a sales training session I attended.

Why Am I Talking

That helps to decide whether I should say something, then if I am going to speak, I employed the rest of Rudyard Kipling’s honest serving men.

I keep six honest serving-men

(They taught me all I knew);

Their names are What and Why and When

And How and Where and Who.

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